When planning a family cruise, it’s important to think about what type of cabin might be best for your brood.
Cruise ship cabins, also known as staterooms, come in all shapes and sizes to match a range of different family sizes, ages and budgets. In this article, we give an overview of some of the most common cabin types so you can decide which is right for you.
Inside cabins are the smallest and cheapest on the ship. They typically have a bed which can be converted from a queen-size to a twin, and a small bathroom featuring a shower, sink and toilet. For children, beds known as Pullman beds can be lowered from the ceiling and there is usually room for a travel cot for babies or toddlers. If you’re interested in finding the cheapest cruise ship accommodation possible, an inside cabin is your best bet.
Whilst inside cabins are great for families on a budget, families with teenagers or those on longer cruises may begin to feel cramped. You may struggle with the lack of privacy or sharing a single bathroom between the four of you. It’s also worth noting that, on some ships, when the upper Pullmans are in use the lower beds have to be in a twin configuration rather than a double.
Some cruise lines also have an age requirement to use the upper Pullman bunks – on Royal Caribbean ships the minimum age is six years old. However, with other cruise lines such as P&O Cruises, there is no minimum age.
If you have a young child, think about whether you’d be happy with them in a top bunk or whether you’d feel safer with them in a travel cot or on a sofa-bed.
As well as the benefits of some outside space, balcony cabins are often slightly larger than inside cabins. You might find that there is a sofa bed which can be used instead of Pullman beds – ideal for younger children who may not be allowed in top bunks for safety reasons. Some also have a curtain which can be drawn across to divide the parents’ sleeping area from the children’s to give some privacy.
Another benefit of a balcony cabin is that once the children are in bed, parents can sit out on the balcony and enjoy a quiet drink, which much beats whispering in bed in the dark!
For a little more space, many families opt to book two cabins next door to each other with a door in between to join them together. If you book two balcony cabins, you can often remove the balcony divide too, to give one larger outside space.
Booking two cabins is a good idea for anyone travelling with older children, as well as those with larger families, as it is possible to fit up to two adults and six children across two interconnecting cabins.
Booking interconnecting cabins can be considerably more expensive than squeezing your family into one – it could double the price of your cruise. Any discounts that you may get for children only apply when the children are sharing a stateroom with two adults – once you book two cabins the children will be charged the full adult fare.
Families with older children may look to book two neighbouring cabins that don’t connect – such as across the corridor with the parents having a balcony and the kids in a cheaper inside cabin. It’s important to consider that most cruise lines have a minimum age for being in a cabin without an adult, which varies from 13 to 21 years of age, depending on the cruise line. Of course, nobody checks to see who sleeps in which bed at night, so if you want your teenagers to have their own cabin across the hall, you should be able to do so by booking one adult and one child in to each cabin and swapping when you arrive.
If your children are in a different cabin, it’s a good idea to request an extra key from guest services when you arrive, so that you can avoid pounding the door down when it’s time to wake them up for breakfast!
With the rise of family cruising, many modern cruise ships now have designated family staterooms which fit large families of five of six. These sometimes have an extra bathroom and often have a separate sleeping area for kids with bunk beds rather than Pullmans over the parent’s bed.
For larger families, these can often be a much more affordable option when compared with booking two interconnecting staterooms. However, they are not available on every ship and when they are, they often book up very quickly, particularly during school holiday periods.
For the utmost in luxury, family suites offer spacious accommodation which is ideal for those families who want to spend time relaxing in their cabin, rather than just sleeping and changing.
Family suites often have separate bedrooms, living areas, multiple bathrooms including a bathtub and a balcony. In addition, suite guests often benefit from additional amenities such as personal butlers, priority check-in or exclusive access to certain areas of the ship.
If your budget isn’t a consideration, you’ll find that some family suites are simply out-of-this-world. The two-storey Ultimate Family Suite on-board Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, for example, features a play area, games table, 3D cinema screen, chalkboard wall, Lego wall, private hot tub and even a slide from the upstairs to the living area!
Booking a family cruise holiday
The best piece of advice we could give to families looking to book a cruise holiday is to book early. This is particularly true if you’re looking to travel in the school holidays. Each ship only has a limited number of cabins which are suitable for families, so whilst last-minute deals might be available for couples, you’ll find much less choice for families if you leave it late.
If you’d like any assistance with finding the perfect cruise for your family, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0808 1234 118 and one of our friendly and experienced Cruise Concierge team will be happy to help.